After 11 events and three seasons of the PokerGO show High Stakes Duel, Jason Koon has been announced as the winner, walking away with $1.6 million and the cherished Championship Belt.

With many great players having taken part in the series, such as Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Scott Seiver and the nine-event winner Phil Hellmuth, was the conclusion the best one for the format and is the nature of heads-up duels changing?

One and Done for Koon

Jason Koon might just be the envy of the high roller set right about now. Playing only the most recent High Stakes Duel clash with Phil Hellmuth, Koon’s victory not only won him that round, but has led to him being able to cash out with the biggest win of the series. Koon would have had to beat someone in a $1.6m apiece duel to do so, but with no challenger facing him for that amount, can and does cash out.

Why did no-one face Koon? If they had taken him on for $1.6 million, they would not have been allowed to cash those winnings out, unlike the West Virginian. They would have needed to beat him not only for $1.6m each, but then a $3.2m buy-in too. That is the reason perhaps that nobody fancied taking on Koon for the Championship Belt.

Having seen Hellmuth turn down his mandatory challenge, Koon had something of anxious wait to find out if he could cash out, but he waited it out and is now the reigning champion. With only two men having won a match other than Phi Hellmuth (Tom Dwan being the other), Koon is the first to have been able to walk away with the money… and he has done so.

Phil Hellmuth Can Consider Himself Unlucky

Phil Hellmuth’s record in this format is incredible. Having put down an initial $50,000 to play Antonio Esfandiari, then destroying ‘The Magician’ 3-0, Hellmuth moved on to do exactly the same to Daniel Negreanu. After despatching Kid Poker, the Poker Brat took on Nick Wright, getting the same result in one leg. Tom Dwan took one win against the Californian, but Hellmuth won the return leg for double the money and swiftly took care of Scott Seiver too.

Had Hellmuth beaten Koon, then he could have cashed out for $1.6 million instead, but it was Koon who proved victorious.

Koon, of course, timed it perfectly, but Hellmuth’s run of nine victories in eleven games in the format can be considered unfortunate not to have yielded any profit save for sponsorship and/or endorsements that he may have enjoyed, which could well be considerable. Rob Yong commented on Hellmuth’s hard work yielding no end result.

Poor old Phil might be a little too kind, with Hellmuth enjoying the kind of lifestyle that only winning 16 WSOP gold bracelets can give a player, but still, he did put in a lot of hard work only to be denied the Championship Belt at the last. Hellmuth, of course, had the option of rechallenging for $3.2million but would have had to win back-to-back heads-up matches against Koon (or a new challenger) to walk away with the eventual $6.4 million pot, and that’s the kind of outlay no-one looks at seriously without a lot of action being sold. Generally, Hellmuth plays under his own steam, so selling action looked unlikely. Koon, of course, sold 1% of his action to PokerStake followers.

What Happens Next in High Stakes Duel?

As Jason Koon has been heralded the victor of High Stakes Duel 3, High Stakes Duel 4 will begin again soon, although there is yet to have been a broadcast date for PokerGO viewers confirmed. The money goes all the way back to an initial buy-in of $50,000, so who might we expect to see take part?

From the players who have played a part in HSD history to this point, we can see both Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth playing a part in the next season. Less likely but still possible are Tom Dwan and Scott Seiver, both of whom may feel they have unfinished business. PokerGO might be hoping Koon comes back to ‘defend’ his title, although he is most likely to wait until the stakes are a little higher and he can press his edge.

New players that fans would love to see might include High Stakes Poker regulars Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius or Phil Ivey, whether its from the ‘reset’ level of $50,000 in Round 1 or later on, with each round doubling the stakes.

Whoever takes part in High Stakes Duel 4, we can’t wait to see what happens.


Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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